Cancer is a scary word. But when you know all the facts, knowledge and understanding can reduce the fear. Find out everything you need to know about cancer and its effects...

Bone Cancer

Bone cancer is one of the least common types of cancer and as the name suggests, it directly affects the bones. However, while many believe that any type of cancer in the bone has to be classed as bone cancer, this is not the case. Instead, only cancer that originates in the bones can be defined as bone cancer and anything else is placed under a separate category.

Another interesting point regarding the cancer is that it is divided into three different types. The first type is osteosarcoma and this only affects growing bones, usually in those people aged between 10 and 25. Chondrosarcoma is another type and this starts in cartilage and generally only affects those who are over 50. The final type is Ewing's sarcoma which begins in nerve tissue and only affects young people.

The signs and symptoms of bone cancer

The symptoms of bone cancer are very easy to describe, with issues such as bone pain and swelling being two of the most common. Other symptoms that have been known to occur include weight loss, fatigue and weakened bones – with the latter sometimes leading to fractures. However, while pain is classed as one of the most common symptoms, it should be noted that this is not always the case and some sufferers will not even experience this effect.

The issues that can cause bone cancer

While doctors have not discovered exact causes of bone cancer, they at least know that it occurs due to mutated DNA in the bone’s cell. This causes the cell to grow in an unnatural way and through time, a tumour is formed.

Research is still ongoing regarding what actually causes the mutation, although experts are starting to believe that it is more common in those people who have already experienced either radiation therapy or anticancer drugs. What’s more, it’s also been found that the osteosarcoma type of bone cancer could be linked to heredity defects.

The possible treatment methods of bone cancer

For those who are diagnosed with bone cancer, they at least have a variety of treatment options to try. Of course, these options will largely depend on the person’s situation with their age and the severity of the cancer all being taken into account before a final decision is made. There are currently four types of common treatment for the condition:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Cryosurgery

The most common treatment method is surgery and fortunately, due to medical advances, this now means that sufferers rarely have their whole infected limb removed. Instead, the entire tumour is removed although unfortunately, reconstructive surgery could still be required afterwards to improve the functionality of the area.

Chemotherapy is an option for those patients that suffer either osteosarcoma or Ewing’s sarcoma, with the patient being subject to a variation of anti-cancer drugs.

Some patients decide to undergo radiation therapy, which aims to use x-ray cells to kill the cancer. This type of treatment is sometimes used alongside general surgery and unlike chemotherapy, it is also open to Chondrosarcoma sufferers.

A more recent type of treatment is cryosurgery. This involves the cancer cells being frozen and then killed by the use of liquid nitrogen. This type of treatment is becoming increasingly popular and is starting to gradually replace typical surgery.